What’s The Lightning Development Initiative?

There’s no denying that 2021 was the Lightning Network’s year. But what does the future look like? This network will need to be refined if it is to help the next billion people. Strike and the Human Rights Foundation were established to take the bull by the ears. Three 1 BTC Bounties

These bounties are awarded to the person/team that develops an anonymous Lightning tip container, which is a tokenless method to convert BTC into dollars or to a wallet with privacy features that allows for Chaumian-e-cash support. The program was christened The Lightning Development Initiative during a Twitter Spaces chat. 

A catchy name that we’ll use from now on to refer to all of this. Lightning Speed 4 is about the future. Let’s explore the three ideas and the new information that we have about each of them.

Lightning Development Initiative in Twitter Spaces

Among the speakers were Strike’s Jack Mallers, The Human Rights Foundation’s Alex Gladstein, Bitcoin Magazine’s Christian Keroles AKA CK Snarks, and Tales From The Crypt’s Matt Odell. Bitcoin Magazine hosted the event, which took place Dec 29th. It was summarized for us by Gigi on Twitter.

Bounty #1: An Anonymous Tip Jar

In our sister site Bitcoinist’s report, they described the challenge as follows:

“Can you create a Lightning tip jar that doesn’t reveal any information about the parties involved? That’s the first task. You can receive anonymous donations. According to Bitcoin Mag, the “goal is to enable anyone to use free and open-source software (FOSS) to print a QR code that can be used for receiving Lightning payments privately. Importantly, “The QR code should not reveal the public key or IP address of the user.” 

In the Lightning Development Initiative’s report, we learned that this has to do with the two competing protocols, Bolt12 and lnurl. Jack Mallers “pointed out the absolute need for interoperability on LN and that even though lnurl might not be “optimal” right now, the market will eventually decide what open standard they prefer to use. He thinks that currently UX is a major focus for the LN community and we should make peace with the fact that there will be competition between solutions.”

Mallers put forth another interesting idea, “contrary to the Bitcoin main chain, we can somewhat afford to f**k up on the Lightning Network. As long as the Bitcoin monetary policy is not threatened then we can freely fiddle on top of the protocol via Lightning.”

BTCUSD price chart for 01/14/2021 - TradingView

 Source: BTC/USD on TradingView.com| Source: BTC/USD on TradingView.com

Bounty #2 – Stablecoin Lightning Without A Token

Bitcoinist described it as:

“The second challenge seems to be even more difficult, at least on a conceptual level. The HRF and Strike want a wallet that enables “anyone to “peg” an amount of bitcoin to U.S. dollars without needing an exchange or another token.” That’s right, without a centralized entity. And relying only on sats and bitcoin.”

Gigi sums up why this is so important:

“The goal is to allow people to access dollars without a single point of failure. Further down the line, as Bitcoin becomes less volatile, these people can use btc, but until then there’s massive demand for holding value in dollars. The tether market cap is proof of this.”

Bounty #3: An E-Cash Chaumian Feature

First and foremost, Investopedia defines Chaumian e-cash as:

“eCash was a digital-based system that facilitated the transfer of funds anonymously. This pioneering cryptocurrency platform was founded with the goal of protecting the privacy and security of micropayments users who used the Internet. eCash was created by Dr. David Chaum under his company, DigiCash, in 1990.“

Again, anonymity remains the top priority. As Alex Gladstein put it when announcing the bounties, they’re “for the first open-source, non-custodial, non-KYC Lightning wallets to ship features requested by dissidents worldwide.” Also, take into consideration the words of security expert Brian Trollz’s words, “Bitcoin is nothing without privacy. It’s a surveillance system.”

What do Gigi thinks about this subject? “We need a sort of Chaumian e-cash, extremely easy to use for the Plebs and accessible. Maybe the solution is a federated  one, making it harder to regulate.” He then quotes Jack Mallers again, “There’s going to be a singular standard for the internet of money (Bitcoin). Many will compete on top of BTC so we need “interoperability to the standard.”

Conclusion: There is a bright future

Developers, teams, companies, anyone can earn the Lighting Development Initiative’s bounties. OpenSats (a non-profit) will act as judge. All are open throughout the year. If by the end of 2022 no one has claimed them, the money will go to the Human Rights Foundation’s Bitcoin Development Fund on January 1st. That’s fair. This is especially true when you consider that they donated 425,000,000 Sats. These worthy people and organisations.

More information? read Bitcoinist’s original report.

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